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Nursing School Degree Programs Berkeley California

How to Enroll In the Right RN School near Berkeley CA

Berkeley CA Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the best nursing college near Berkeley CA may seem like a formidable project, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Berkeley CA Nurse taking vital signs of patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely Berkeley CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

Berkeley California Nurse assisting surgeon

There are multiple degrees offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Berkeley California area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by California community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at California colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the California board of nursing for any state requirements.

Nursing Online Degrees

Berkeley CA woman attending RN college onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Berkeley CA students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Become a Nurse?

Nurses are an essential component of a Berkeley CA medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to a number of opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for various reasons, among the most significant are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic ailments. This human aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specializations, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While most nurses provide primary patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

questions to ask Berkeley CA nursing training programsOnce you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Berkeley CA or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other schools.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in California for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the California school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Berkeley CA healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Berkeley CA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Berkeley CA area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Berkeley CA Nursing Program

Berkeley CA nurse holding babyChoosing the right nursing program is arguably the most critical phase to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous factors that you must take into account when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Berkeley CA.